Business is good at Titusville Market Square.
Ever since opening in July, the business, which offers a space for local vendors to sell a variety of products, has seen rapid expansion. What started out as a mostly vacant building and a hand full of product booths has exploded into a storefront full of nearly 70 different vendors, according to co-owner Susan Drake.
“It’s kind of a proud feeling to know that in three month’s time, 67 small businesses have been put to work,” Drake said.
Now, Titusville Market Square is preparing to kick off its grand opening celebration, which will begin today and run through Saturday. The weekend will feature giveaways, live music and, perhaps most symbolically important of all, a ribbon cutting.
The business was founded by Drake and her brother, Bill Wieder, at 101 N. Franklin St. Wieder had previously run his comic book store, Comic Books 101, out of the space alongside the Big and Tall Guys clothing store. However, that latter business closed around December, leaving the relatively smaller comic book space by itself.
A sense of isolation in the larger storefront prompted Wieder to suggest collaborating with his sister on getting something else in to the property. Drake had recently resigned from the Titusville Chamber of Commerce, and was looking for something new.
Comic Books 101 still remains at Titusville Market Square as an anchor store, but is no longer operating in solitude, with the dozens of vendors now occupying space at the building.
“I’m excited not to be the only person in this big old building (anymore),” Wieder said. “I was alone for a while.”
By August, the business had grown to 25 vendors. This number jumped to 45 in September. Now, come October, another 32 vendors have joined in.
According to Drake, Titusville Market Square saw a large influx of interest after banners advertising the space where put up just before the 2019 Oil Festival.
Even with the growth, Drake and Weider said there is still space left and they won’t rest until the entirety of the marketplace is filled. However, that task has turned out surprisingly easier than they initially expected.
“They actually found us, which is the most amazing part,” Drake said the vendors. “We thought we were going to be knocking on doors and pounding the pavement to find vendors.”
Products sold at Titusville Market Square come in all shapes and sizes. There are hand-woven blankets made by Amish folk only a few feet away from DVDs of movies filmed in Pennsylvania. Antiques share shelf space with homemade puppets. A photographer and a painter both have their work on display, ready to catch the eye of a potential customer.
Even some food good are present, with Titusville Dairy being the newest vendor to join Titusville Market Square. The company has set up a fridge full of dairy products which Drake said has been a major draw for many customers.
In fact, the very first day the Titusville Diary products became available, the cottage cheese was sold out within 24 hours.
“That’s what we needed,” she said, referring to the fridge. “Something to get people through the door.”
The storefront that Titusville Market Square operates out of has a historic pedigree. It first opened in 1853 as a lumber business. Since then, it has changed hands many times, including being used by Colonel Drake himself at one point, according to Drake. Wieder and Drake have a collage of photos and paintings of the business throughout the years, showing how it has changed.
For Wieder, the variety of other products has even been a benefit for his comic book store. He said that many customers to Comic Books 101 may bring friends or family who aren’t interested in comics. With the other vendors now operating, he said there’s something for just about everyone.
Come Saturday, Comic Books 101 will participate in the grand opening by giving out some free comics on Saturday. That feature of the festivities is actually a coincidence, according to Wieder. Saturday is Comic Fest, a national event whereby comic book stores give out free comics, and just so happened to fall on Titusville Market Square’s grand opening.
Local musician Carl Olson will be playing a piano at the store front at various times through the weekend, and a raffle is being run through Sunday. Customers who spend $5 or more receive a ticket they can put in for a drawing, with the 67 vendors each contributing a different prize.
Drake said the siblings decided to hold their grand opening now to get ahead of the holiday season, something she is looking forward to with eagerness. Some holiday displays are already being planned, and she hopes to have a booth at the marketplace for people to get Christmas pictures taken with their families during the holiday season.
The Titusville Market Square grand opening kicks off today with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. The business is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ray can be reached, by email, at email@example.com.